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Schools on the Lookout for Fraud Attempts
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The Ministry of Education (MOE) will tighten supervision of college registration to clamp down on the possibility of fraud during the recently started third period of enrollment.

The third period, during which city-level schools recruit students, has been plagued by fraud in recent years.

Ministry spokesman Wang Xuming warned that "parents should be very careful when selecting schools for their children to avoid being cheated."

The country maintains a very strict enrollment examination system to guarantee the quality of the students. Only those students who pass the entrance examination have the opportunity to attend a university or college. The country has three types of institution of higher learning: at the national, provincial and city levels.

Schools at the first two levels recently ended their enrollment period, which started early last month. Schools at the city level are currently enrolling students.

"There were few cases for schools at the first two levels because their administration is rather strict. But there were many such cases at third level schools over the years," Wang told China Daily yesterday.

Wang said fraud is more common in cities that have many universities and colleges, such as Beijing, Wuhan and Chengdu.

"Students who fail to score at least a 500 on the entrance exam are the most likely to fall victim to fraudsters because they are probably enrolled by the third level schools," he said.

To cut down on the possibility of fraud, the MOE issued a note requiring universities, educational watchdogs and even parents to be on guard.

"I want to ask people to keep their eyes open and to research the schools before making a hasty decision that could not only cost them money, but also their children's future," Wang said.

The official said the ministry's website (www.moe.edu.cn) features detailed information about schools.

"We have listed all qualified higher learning institutes here on the website. Please do not trust schools whose names do not appear on the list or be lured by the sweet words of their agents," Wang said.

The names of the qualified students are expected to be loaded into the ministry's database by December 1. This service has been available since last year.

The ministry has also dispatched several supervisory teams around the nation to help combat fraud.

Educational fraud has become increasingly common in recent years in Beijing, according to sources from the city's Haidian District Procuratorate.

Shao Jianbing, president of the International Business College in Liaoning Province, said he was unaware of any fraud taking place at his school, though he had heard of such cases at other city-level and private schools in Liaoning.

Earlier this month, police detained eight people for selling fake university enrolment certificates to around 1,000 unwitting students for a total 10 million yuan (US$1.3 million).

And in another case, a gang of 11 people traveled around country promising students in 17 provinces places at universities, according to the public security bureau of Haikou, capital of the south island province of Hainan.

Three of the 11 suspects were still at large. The suspects forged the stamps and matriculation certificates of many universities, hired hackers to falsify computer enrollment records and pretended to be recruitment staff, police said.

(China Daily August 17, 2007)

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